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Aug 17, 2006

August 08, 2006

Oil Spill Penguins Face Death, Bounce Back

Imagine the feeling of just going about your day, walking down the street, when all of a sudden the shock of carbon dioxide shoots pain through your lungs. Slowly you realize that with each breath you are depriving yourself of oxygen. Your body begins to shut down. You look around thinking this is must be some terrible mistake…but instead you see the people around you grasping with the same pain. For penguins trapped in an oil spill, this painful event is all too familiar.

Each year, oil is deliberately dumped into ocean waters endangering marine life and devastating coastal ecosystems. It’s difficult to conceptualize the damage that is caused by a single oil container until you actually see photos of the oiled beaches covered in a carpet of a thousand oiled penguins. The oil, dumped as a result of careless human activity, often comes from a source that is not identifiable.

The entire process of removing the oil and rehabilitating the wildlife can take anywhere from four weeks to four months. Over the past three months I have been watching from afar as the IFAW oiled wildlife response team
rescued 224 penguins from an oiled beach in the Cabo Virgenes Nature Reserve in Argentina. Without a doubt, IFAW’s team is the world leader in oiled wildlife rehabilitation.

As I share this information with you, I am proud of the expertise we have on the ground. This year our team endured the challenges of cold weather, water heaters malfunctioning, lack of fish for penguin diets, transportation of hundreds of penguins across 130 km and having to set up a rehabilitation site from almost nothing.

‘Waterproofing’ is the final stage in the rehabilitating process where the penguins prepare themselves for life under water. After the birds have been cleaned of all oil and are maintaining a healthy immune system, they are placed in outdoor pools allowing them to wash and preen themselves. Waterproofing is crucial for penguins whose feathers must be nearly impenetrable to wind and water.

Who would have thought that in the middle of July, it would reach -14C along the coast of Argentina? These temperatures restricted the amount of time the penguins could spend outside in the waterproofing pools.  Therefore, the release date was continually pushed back, extending the average time it takes to waterproof.  Following three intensive months in rehabilitation, the penguin release is now underway in San Clemente del Tuyu.

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Posted: Aug 17, 2006 6:11pm
Jul 10, 2006
Focus: Animal Welfare
Action Request: Petition
Location: United States

Please sign the petition & spread the word.

A Universal Declaration for Animal Welfare on the books with the United Nations could help countries gain the last bit of momentum they need to get better, stronger animal welfare laws passed and the courage to enforce existing laws meant to ensure humane treatment for all animals.

From U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays' website:

A 2003 Gallup poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans “support passing strict laws concerning the treatment of farm animals.” And a 2003 Zogby poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans find it “unacceptable” that farm animals have no federal protection from abuse while on the farm, and nearly three quarters believe that farms ought to be “inspected by government inspectors to ensure that regulations to protect animals from cruelty are being followed.”

A clear majority of the American people want the abuse to stop!  Let's roll up our sleeves and convert goodwill into good laws, backed by relentless enforcement and just penalties. 

How bad is it?  The numbers tell the scope of the suffering.  But numbers, even words, fail to convey the screams, wailing, tears, horror, pain, agony, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and loss of dignity that each animal suffers as an individual. 

From website:

The scale of suffering for animals in the world today is unprecedented.

1. Around 60 billion farm animals are used each year
globally to produce meat, milk and eggs. The majority
are raised in industrial farming systems where their
welfare needs are not met.

2. Globally, there are some 600 million dogs, and a
similar number of cats, of which an estimated 80% are
stray or unwanted.

3. The illegal and often inhumane trade in wildlife and
wildlife parts is a soaring black market worth $10 billion
a year, exceeded only by arms and drug smuggling. Millions
of wild animals are killed, captured or traded inhumanely in
this shady business.

4. An estimated 80% of power input on farms in developing
countries is supplied by draught animals, however the
resources made available are often woefully inadequate,
leading to significant welfare issues.

5. Animals are also affected on a huge scale by natural
disasters, though seldom considered.

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Posted: Jul 10, 2006 10:28am


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Melanie B.
, 3
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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